Earthcrafters is completing “the final pieces of the puzzle” for The Bounds and St. Johns projects. And although the work took far longer than it should have, when it’s all over, “it’ll be a net gain for the town,” said Warsaw Town Manager Joseph Quesenberry.

“A number of hiccups have occurred along the way that have been corrected or are in the process of being addressed,” he explained.

At The Bounds, engineers did a soil sample and found that the dirt was not up to par for topsoil. It was too sandy and wasn’t suitable for a municipal park. 

The contract stated that the topsoil for the project was to come from the site, so that’s what was initially applied, Quesenberry explained. 

But the contractor “overlooked” the part that said if for some reason the property’s soil was unacceptable, then topsoil must be brought in. 

Earthcrafters agreed it was responsible for covering the cost and spent $20,000 for topsoil. They applied it, planted grass seed, and now grass is starting to grow. Once the soil and grass have established, the town will install walking trails.

Many of the trees at the site were planted in the wrong places and then died. All of them have been removed and Earthcrafters will cover the cost to have a local contractor install a variety of new trees. 

“Beyond that, there’s really not much site work left that Earthcrafters is responsible for,” said Quesenberry.

After finding that the initial aerator in the pond had a manufacturer’s defect, the town council decided to improve the aesthetics and is buying a 30-foot fountain to place in the center of the water. They’re also buying an additional aerator to match the one that’s being replaced and will install those on the sides. All three will have lights.

Addressing liquidated damages

Earthcrafters is liable to pay a fee for its time-overruns. Warsaw Town Council decided if Earthcrafters completes the waterline to Ace Hardware and “squares away” the St. Johns project in the next month or two they’ll “consider it a wash, shake hands, and part ways,” said Quesenberry.

The stormwater hookup is estimated at about $45,000 and was nearly complete as of last week. 

The remaining St. Johns projects include installing brick pavers and ensuring the sidewalks at the Corner of St. Johns and Main St. are ADA-compliant. Warsaw wants to ensure everyone has accessibility.

Earthcrafters will also need to apply some dirt in the project area and make some concrete repairs.

It’s really “just odds and ends” remaining. Under ideal circumstances, the work could be wrapped up in a couple weeks, but due to Covid-19 and the impact that it can have on the availability of products, Quesenberry said the town is prepared for it to take extra time.

“All of the remaining work has been done on [Earthcrafters] own dime.” The town is not expending any further funds, he said.

“So, I know the timeliness of the project has not been in our favor. We want [The Bounds] online so the public can enjoy it. But financially speaking, it’s not going to be loss to the town, and in a certain viewpoint it’s a net gain to the town.”

Not to mention that the work has turned out well once it’s completed. “Everyone is happy” with the stormwater line, which has proven to reduce the water buildup on Main St.

The pond has held up after numerous rainfalls, and the water volume in the Ridgeway neighborhood has dramatically declined. Before residents said it was like living in the mountains and a stream flows through your yard, explained Quesenberry.

“We’re pleased with the quality of  Earthcrafters once it’s completed. It’s getting to that point that causes frustration,” he said.

“These projects have drug on longer than they should and Earthcrafters should be held accountable for that,” Quesenberry admits. “But I think the end result is going to be very nice. And I hope that people view the situation remembering what The Bounds used to look like before the project started,” he added.